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Dr. Anthony Fauci shows a screen grab of a campaign website for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) during a senate hearing on January 11, 2022.Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — With Americans rapidly losing interest in COVID mandates and restrictions, COVID czar Dr. Anthony Fauci had appeared to temporarily fade into the background in recent weeks, leading Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to joke that the prominent public health official had entered the witness protection program.

The rise of a new variant of the coronavirus in China, however, has once again put Dr. Fauci in the spotlight.

This week, the scandal-ridden head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) gave multiple media interviews, warning that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over and a new variant may necessitate the reimposition of mandates or other restrictions.

In a Thursday TV spot with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Dr. Fauci weighed in on the World Health Organization (WHO) director’s recent suggestion that despite the lifting of mandates throughout the country and the world, “the pandemic is not over.”

“Do you think it was too soon to move to the new metrics that allow so many Americans to not have to wear masks?” Tapper asked.

“Jake, it’s not too soon if you observe the caveat that’s associated with that,” the NIAID director answered, explaining that Americans still “need to be flexible.” 

“And if, in fact, we do see a turnaround and a resurgence, we have to be able to pivot and go back to any degree of mitigation that is commensurate with what the situation is,” Fauci said, suggesting that mask and jab mandates, lockdowns, social distancing orders, or other restrictions imposed in the early stages of the pandemic could be brought back if deemed necessary.

“So we can’t just say we’re done, now we’re going to move on,” Fauci said.

The NIAID head’s comments to CNN came just a day after he spoke with ABC 10News, warning about the emergence of the so-called “Stealth Omicron” sub-variant of the virus, which has led the Chinese government to lock down some 50 million Chinese citizens and thrown a wrench into the global supply chain.

“I would expect that we might see an uptick in cases here in the United States,” Fauci said, predicting that “[o]ver the coming weeks, it will become more dominant (than Omicron).”

Fauci said the new variant is “more likely to transmit,” but explained that it “doesn’t appear to make the disease any more severe than BA.1 (Omicron) and doesn’t seem to evade immune responses any more than BA.1.”

Regardless of the relative mildness of the latest COVID variant, Fauci contended the U.S. should be “flexible enough to re-institute the kinds of interventions that could be necessary to stop an additional surge.”

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